Mum of tragic Sunderland teenager Thomas Brookes speaks of her pain as wait for review into his death continues

The mum of a Sunderland teenager who died suddenly at home says she is ‘living a death sentence myself’.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 5:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 5:59 pm

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Brookes was found by his mother, Helen Wardropper, at their Grangetown home on September 28, 2019.

The devastated mum tried desperately to save him but was unable to resuscitate him.

A pre-inquest review into Thomas’ death was held this week and a final hearing, expected to last at least five days, will be scheduled early next year.

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Thomas Brookes and pictured with mum Helen Wardropper (left) and aunt Cheryl Coggins (right)

Helen said this week’s hearing had been a struggle: “To sit down at a pre-inquest review into the death of your own child is brutal,” she said.

"It is absolutely brutal. You have got to sit there and not react when you want to scream your head off."

Helen has been treated for with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is still struggling to come to terms with losing her beloved boy: “My doctor has diagnosed me with PTSD from finding and having to try to resuscitate my 16-year-old child,” she said.

“It is like a dark cloud hanging above me. I am living a death sentence myself.”

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Helen said Thomas had had everything to live for. The dedicated Sunderland fan had a job at the part-time job at the Stadium of Light and an interview for a job at Ryhope Post Office lined up.

But he had suffered from mental health issues for several years and Helen has dedicated herself to ensuring other families do not go through the same suffering she has and that those who do receive the help and support they need.

She has been working with support group, Sunderland Grieving Parents Support, to help grieving families and Washington Mind to highlight the importance of mental helth.

A football tournament held in Thomas’ memory last year was a success and Helen will be repeating the event later this year.

“I am trying to focus on the positives,” she said.

"I have got another football tournamenton July 11 and I have been given funding from Washington Mind for Sunderland Grieving Parents Support to hold a mental health event.“My main focus is on the mental health of young people in particular.”

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